The Dalai Lama did a talk a few days ago, where he said training your heart is as important as training your mind. He explained to the students that there are two levels of compassion: the biological compassion that we feel for our family, our friends, and our loved ones — and then the more substantial compassion which you can extend it to strangers and then to even your enemies.
He talked about the gap between perception and reality — how people read a situation by projecting their own emotional baggage, which causes distortion. That is why he emphasized that we all must strive to have transparency in our interactions with people. Otherwise there is mistrust, which causes fear, which can then develop into frustration, anger and violence.
If developing compassion is something we can teach ourselves, then the Dalai Lama’s message is essentially “educating the heart” — an education that is not merely about developing the mind and getting good grades. Rather, it is about fostering an environment where we can learn empathy.
Too often, our society encourages competition and only values power. The result of an education that teaches those skills, I worry, will be insecurity and isolation. True confidence, however, comes from being compassionate to others— which is the main foundation of educating the heart.
The century of our generation has passed — it is now the next generation’s chance to do better than this generation has done, to create a society of connectivity and compassion.